Tech Desk

From the Tech Desk

Could James Patterson's BookShots Platform Be the Next Big Thing in eBook Publishing?

James Patterson is already a huge name in the publishing industry. Indeed, the guy has the Guinness World Record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers. Famous for his thrillers—particularly the Alex Cross series, which includes titles like Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls—Patterson has written hundreds of books since the mid-1970s. The Alex Cross series has even been adapted into multiple Hollywood films, with actors like Morgan Freeman and Tyler Perry taking on the role of the detective and psychologist. Now, though, Patterson is venturing into eBook publishing, with the BookShots platform.

Easily one of the summer's most intriguing developments in the eBook and publishing technology spheres, BookShots unveiled its first slate of titles in June and is already garnering considerable buzz among readers. How does it work? If standard-length novels are the blockbuster films and art house movies of the publishing industry, then the titles on BookShots are the equivalent of hour-long network TV procedurals. The core selling point to this eBook service is that each title is short, sweet, exciting, and cheap. Fittingly, some of the first words you'll read after visiting the BookShots website are: "Under 150 pages. Under $5. Impossible to Put Down."

It's not difficult to see why the BookShots model would appeal to a certain subset of the modern reading audience. With obligations like work, school, and family, it can be tough to find time to sit down and dive into a 400 or 500-page novel. For these readers, there are three real choices, none of them optimal: 1) shirk all other responsibilities to get to the end of a book; 2) spend a month or two slowly nursing a single title; or 3) stop reading altogether. The real die-hard book lovers might find a way to fit books in between all of their other obligations, but too often, we end up seeing people who are too busy to immerse themselves in a great novel or nonfiction book.

BookShots could be a solution to that problem. The model promises "fast reads for fast times," and it's entirely possible that the short eBooks and their tendency to get right to the "good stuff" could appeal to modern readers who are short on time or attention span. The BookShots app also lets you tweak the font, text size, and lighting style for your eBooks. Audiobooks are also available for most titles. Add the fact that BookShots can instantaneously sync purchases and bookmarks across multiple devices—the platform is supported by apps for both iOS and Android—and it's clear that this innovation is designed to make reading more flexible, accessible, and convenient across the board.

If there's a drawback to BookShots right now, it's that the platform is so new. As a result, if you aren't too taken with the style of James Patterson, you probably aren't going to be terribly taken with the service either. BookShots has so few titles at the moment that they can all be displayed on the website's homepage. The thriller section consists of eight eBooks, all co-written by Patterson and featuring his characters. Four of those titles aren't even available yet and are just up for preorder. The rest of the catalog is made up of four romance stories (two of which are only available for preorder) and one nonfiction book about the Donald Trump/Hillary Clinton presidential battle (also only available for preorder). All 13 of these titles were either written by Patterson, co-written by Patterson, or written based on his story concepts.

Currently, there is no indication as to whether or not BookShots could evolve into something bigger, with more authors, more genres, and more publishers involved. Right now, the service is operated by Hachette and Penguin Random House and James Patterson is the mastermind. However, the basic concept of BookShots—short, gripping books that are inexpensive and easy to read quickly—is one whose appeal extends far beyond two major publishers and one famous author. With the right push and the right people onboard, BookShots could shine a light on up-and-coming authors, generate buzz for independent publishers, and give major publishers or authors a chance to create shorter-form fiction around their established characters or worlds. Quite frankly, the possibilities and appeal for a concept like this are limitless. We can only hope that Patterson, Hachette, and Penguin Random will see the considerable potential here and make moves to expand BookShots by the end of the year.

Take a look at BookShots for yourself, by visiting the service online at

Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at